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The Beach Boys: An American Band (1985)

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A biography of the American rock band The Beach Boys, with interviews, concert footage and clips from movies and television shows they appeared in.



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Credited cast:
Himself (archive footage)
Carl Wilson ...
Mike Love ...
Al Jardine ...
Bruce Johnston ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Himself (archive footage)
Bobby Figueroa ...
Himself - drummer
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


A biography of the American rock band The Beach Boys, with interviews, concert footage and clips from movies and television shows they appeared in. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


PG-13 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 November 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Beach Boys - Uma Banda Americana  »

Box Office


$2,100,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


A couple of songs in the film, "Surf's Up" and "Fire" (aka. "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow") were recorded for the famous, unreleased "SMiLE" album which was supposed to be released in the summer of 1967. See more »


Features The Girls on the Beach (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

Bitter With the Sweet
3 October 2002 | by (Cleveland, Ohio) – See all my reviews

This documentary on "The Beach Boys" may become more valuable as the years pass. Time has a way of allowing us to separate the sporadic and superficial from the genuine and great.

Now that we have some space since the group's "big years," namely the 60s and 70s, we can benefit from an enhanced perspective. What's beginning to emerge is that this group is a major popular music institution of the past century.

Much has been written and talked about Brian Wilson. In my estimation, within the context of the 60s/70s youth music genre, Wilson is a titanic talent, displaying often breathtaking creativity in the genre of "basic" or "classic rock."

The vintage footage here may be grainy and flawed, yet it's invaluable as a historic legacy we can actually view, as well as hear, as clips from "The Beach Boys'" tv specials are lovingly preserved. It would be great to have this material formally restored; however, the group's full value may yet to be appreciated. We may need a few more years for their extraordinary work to "kick in" for total recognition.

Their career is filled with all the joy and anguish one would typically expect. Starting off as healthy, normal American kids-on-the-block, wanting just to have fun, their youthful purity was touching. Yet much more was happening here: some extraordinary harmonizations were shaping up, with lead pitted against close three-part harmonic background (an early a cappella number was reminiscent of the historic "troubadour" tradition).

What was even more impressive was their actually embodying their main theme of surfing, sunning, "twisting," "digging cars and chicks" . . . in other words, "becoming" the "beach generation mystique," immortalized in song.

Just when you think you're going to hear a conventional phrase or harmonic structure, Wilson throws in a "curve": a fresh turn of phrase, chord, modulation, lyric--elevating it to a heightened plane of expression. Suddenly the predictable becomes startling, even breathtaking.

This documentary features Brian commenting everything while lying in bed, with covers pulled up to neck. Undoubtedly during one of his frequent health-challenge periods, Wilson speaks clearly and cohesively. It's as though Wilson in any form is a "boon." And it well may be.

This presentation also gives hints of some of the group's career challenges: while it's one thing to perform for fun, it's quite another to have a professional career. Indeed, with the latter comes management, contracts, travel, recording sessions, tv specials, live concerts, p/r and the like.

It also involves, in time, problems with the individual ego. This documentary delineates dealings with the father as initial manager ("How can one dispute one's dad?" asks one member) problems with sibling rivalry ("bloodline challenges") and with Brian increasingly placed in the "starring role."

In time, all of these factions took their toll, and "The Beach Boys" found there's a big difference between singing and playing in home and neighborhood, and being placed in the international spotlight.

What we're left with, though, are ingenious [Wilson] compositions in which arrangement is often as integral as conception . . . great tunes, rhythms, lyrics, normal and falsetto vocals, and sparkling instrumentals.

We can be grateful to Malcolm Leo for co-producing, writing and directing this movie/video tribute to a most noteworthy 20th century American band, "The Beach Boys."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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